A dredging project for a new commercial goods barge dock and fleeting service is being proposed at the end of Tri-Cities Beach Road by a developer who has a history with the City of Baytown.
On behalf of Fisher Industrial Gateway Terminals LLC, Johnnie Jennings is proposing to construct a dock that is intended to load steel rolls, containers and liquid products. According to the public notice on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Galveston District website, the proposed project would shorten trips needed for hauling loads half-mile upstream of Cedar Bayou, saving transportation costs, delays, traffic and barge collisions while providing a safer
alternative for the shipping and receiving of commercial goods.
To complete the project, Fisher Industrial Gateway would dredge nearly 33 acres and 684,000 cubic yards that would impact .08 acres of oyster reef, over 33 acres of water bodies and .53 acres of estuarine wetlands, which is concerning to the Texas Health and Environment Alliance (THEA).
“Wetlands and oyster reefs are a few of natures treasures that offer amazing benefits to the natural system,” THEA Executive Director Jacquelyn Young said.
“They serve as filters for contaminants and offer benefits for flooding. Impacting or removing these systems removes one of natures fist defenses to flooding and contamination.”
While the project is being proposed on Tri-City Beach Road, just south of Cedar Bayou and just outside of Beach City, principals with the company already reached out to Mayor Jackey Lasater, who has no significant issues with project development.
“After my initial review of the proposed barge dock project plans, I have yet to see any red flags that might be of a concern to Beach City during the construction phase,” Lasater said. “I am concerned with the increased truck traffic in the area after the barge dock becomes operational. But was assured that almost all new truck traffic would be utilizing FM1405.”
With a concern for traffic, Lasater hopes the Texas Department of Transportation will do something about it.
“This is a route that many Beach City citizens use to go to and from work and into Baytown, including myself,” he said. “TxDOT needs to seriously consider increasing FM1405 to four lanes from FM2354 to HWY 99 as it has already become very congested with trucks.”
“Impatient drivers passing eighteen-wheelers is already becoming a significant safety issue,” he added. “Increasing the truck traffic will only compound the problem.”
Public comments about the Fisher Industrial Gateway Terminals project will be received until June 14 and can be submitted at www.swg.usace.army.mil/Media/Public-Notices/Article/1847763/swg-2011-00070-fisher-industrial-gateway-terminals-llc-wetlands-chambers-county/.
Jennings, at the time representing Jennings Investments, has dealt with setbacks in barge development in the past. In 2011 the City of Baytown settled a lawsuit against the company.
Over about four years, the city fought the permit, which requested a five-year extension of the permit from the Corps of Engineers for dredging work related to the project.
The city even annexed a portion of the property in an effort to control future development but eventually settled.